When something goes wrong in business, it’s easy to lament and focus on the negative consequences. But successful business leaders understand that mistakes – regardless of how serious or impactful – are merely speed bumps in the grand scheme of things.
When your company experiences a problem, mistake, error, or issue, you have to shift your mindset from frustration to excavation. In other words, it’s time to start digging so you can identify the cause and prevent the issue from happening again.
Some issues are more serious than others, but it’s imperative that you treat every problem as serious until the root cause is identified. There are plenty of different strategies for getting to the root of an issue, but here are some practical steps you can take to figure out what went wrong.
1. Contain The Failure
In the wake of a big error or mistake, people tend to spin out of control and do things they otherwise wouldn’t. This further compounds the underlying issue and muddies the waters. That’s why one of your key focal points should be to contain the failure.
“When a failure occurs, the first step should always be containment to prevent the failure from causing further risk to health, safety, environment or process integrity,” PinnacleART explains to its clients. “But containment should be performed with an eye to preserving the site of the failure for future analysis.”
For example, when a machine malfunctions in a manufacturing process, a plant manager’s first move may be to unscrew the bolts on the machine’s base in order to take a peek inside and see what happened. Unfortunately, a failure to check and document the bolts prior to removal may cause you to miss the fact that the bolts were improperly fastened to begin with. Little problems like this can compromise an entire analysis.
2. Talk To Everyone Involved
One of the first steps is to talk to the people who were directly involved in the incident, but don’t stop here. In order to gather all of the relevant facts about the situation – including what happened leading up to and after the incident – you need to get statements from as many people as possible.
3. Focus On Internal Levers
Business setbacks tend to be caused by a number of factors. Some factors are external, meaning you don’t have much control over them. Other factors are internal, which puts the onus squarely on your shoulders.
It’s natural and easy to blame internal problems on external factors. It’s a whole lot harder to look inside. “But to be able to bounce back from a setback—even if it’s somewhat influenced by external causes—you need to focus on finding those internal levers you can change,” says Nat Greene, CEO of Stroud International. “This approach takes you out the helpless passenger role and puts you in the driver’s seat.”
4. Move Forward
In this article, we’ve discussed a reactive approach to managing problems. However, the best policies are the ones that are proactive. Preventing problems in the first place should be the goal. Once you’ve identified the root cause, be sure to shift your attention towards creating a plan that allows you to prevent future issues through strategic decision making.
Don’t Let Mistakes Define You Or Your Business
It’s really easy to let your mistakes define you, but you have to push through and focus on the present and future. The better you get with root cause analysis, the safer and more efficient your business processes will become. Pretty soon mistakes will be fewer and farther between, which will allow you to concentrate on the things business leaders should be attentive to, like growth, output, and profitability.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.